This holiday season, I am traveling back to my childhood home to see my friends, family, enjoy the good times, the making of new memories, and catching up on the old town gossip.
I am fortunate. On the flip side I've been personally thinking about the loss that our community has had in the past year and of course, Pulse Orlando does come to the forefront of that.
As we celebrate this holiday season and the coming of the new year, there will be families mourning and remembering those we have lost.
In remembrance of that, we thought we would share the vigils that happened the day after the Orlando massacre.
Cities across the country held vigils and gatherings to remember the victims of the deadly mass shooting on June 12 in Orlando. Allies gathered at iconic sites like New York's Stonewall Inn and the White House to mourn together. (The Washington Post)
As part of the washingtonpost.com sharing they also shared three of the stories from that awful day.
A man had escaped the nightclub unscathed when he saw another man stumble out bleeding, calling for help, according to the The Los Angeles Times. Josh McGill pulled the stranger behind a car and ripped off his shirt to staunch the man’s bullet wounds. The man was also bleeding from a shot in his back, and McGill asked someone standing by to also donate his shirt to try and stop the bleeding. When they made it to the police, an officer had McGill lay down in the backseat of a car with the bleeding man on top of him. McGill was instructed to give him a bear hug and keep him conscious. McGill said he told the man, who ABC News later identified as Rodney Sumter, a bartender at the club, that everything would be okay. Sumter is alive and awaiting surgery, according to ABC, and was likely saved because of McGill.
Ray Rivera, a.k.a DJ Infinite
The gunfire started as the night was winding down and the DJ at Pulse was transitioning to mellow Reggae music, he told the Daily Beast. Ray Rivera ducked behind his booth and a man and a woman joined him hiding. When there was a break in the shots, the man made a run for it, but Rivera said he stayed with the woman, shielding her as he escorted them to safety.
Edward Sotomayor Jr.
The 34-year-old world traveler was shot in the back pushing his boyfriend through a door to safety, according to several news reports. A brand manager for an LGBT travel agency, Edward Sotomayor’s boss told the Orlando Sentinel that of the risks of traveling as a gay man, Sotomayor would say, “We cannot be afraid.” – washingtonpost.com
Living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, I've had some great interactions with the Al & Chuck staff, where Sotomayor Jr worked. It is evident that he is highly missed by his work and the cruise community. At some of the social / happy hours held at the Al & Chuck travel office, his name is brought up often.
And we need to do that. We cannot forget. We need to remember. We need to celebrate. So as we look back on this year of gains and losses, let us not forget those that have one before us but let's remember them as great people and not victims of tragedy.
I will be thinking of my personal family members whom have passed this past year, but I as well will remember many in the LGBT community we have lost, too. And we have lost more than just the Orlando victims. There have been too many suicides, too many transgender individuals killed, too many losses. So send thoughts and prayers to those families that are missing a member this holiday season.